April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
03 Feb 2021

Member Refers Member

Thank youWhen you joined NICA, you most likely read the list of Member Benefits. Though there are many benefits to being a member, we believe that giving referrals is one of the most beneficial. Whether it’s a service you don’t provide or the location of the inventory is too far away, using the Directory can help you find someone to who you can refer.

Our office received a letter from member Tricia Hoekwater, owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions (dba Norcal Inventory), telling us of a referral she received from Donna Courtney, owner of Courtney Inventory, located almost 3,000 miles away, that turned into an excellent inventory job. Not only did Tricia show the benefits of members working together to benefit clients throughout the country, but she also provided some great tips for those who choose to tackle the arduous task of loss inventories.

Thank you, Tricia, for allowing us to share this letter…

“In 2020 my colleague, Donna Courtney, received an inquiry for a loss inventory that occurred outside of her normal work of South Carolina. The client was filing an insurance claim due to the California, San Rosa fires and needed help documenting the personal property that was lost. Donna referred the client to me as I was physically closer.

This opportunity required getting to know the client, their personal preferences, where they shop, their original home layout, and their sense of their possessions. During our meetings, I was able to establish a good rapport with the client from our initial meeting and each subsequent communication gave me more insight into the items they lost in the fire. This level of knowledge allowed me to efficiently spend my time researching the Internet for the same or similar items.  

With the client’s permission, I was able to deal with the insurance company on their behalf to ensure the proper documentation was being provided. Using an Excel worksheet template provided by the client and initial correspondence with the claims adjuster, I was able to document in detail each item listed in the insurance claim.

The client gave me “artistic license” to research and add items to the inventory for their review and approval.  As I submitted each update for review, I received positive feedback confirming that they had those items. This process would also jog their memory for more specifics on name brands and quantities.  As an example – while documenting their extensive wine collection, I was able to research specific wineries and vintages in the Sonoma Valley, where they lived, which met the price point provided by the client. This allowed the clients to confirm that they had owned specific bottles of wine. Knowing the client flipped houses, a second example involved researching tools and equipment that would be used in flipping a house. This included everything from handheld tools to heavy equipment and end of project cleaning supplies and tools.

The insurer required a great deal of detailed information including:

  • Item name
  • Item description
  • Quantity
  • Item price
  • Extended price
  • Source of information (url). 

I also included notes for each line item if there were changes to the insurer’s valuations or descriptions. The final report was 1 spreadsheet with 34 individual worksheets that linked back to two summary worksheets. 

This was a great experience. I enjoyed being able to take this tedious and time-consuming task off the client’s plate. I was able to save the clients’ money, allow them to release the stress of creating the inventory, and they were able to continue with their travels and other commitments.

A very special “Thank you” to Donna Courtney. This was an incredible experience and I am more than grateful for her referral.”

Again, we thank Tricia for sharing this great story. If you have a similar example of working together with other NICA members, please send them in so we can share them in future newsletters.

02 Apr 2020

April is National Home Inventory Month

NICA’s mission is “To provide awareness and education” for the home and business inventory professionals. An annual effort that began last year was to establish April as National Home Inventory Month (NHIM). The intent, which supports the mission statement, is to create additional awareness by focusing on the need for an inventory of one’s contents. Personal property inventory professionals inform others about this industry on a regular basis. A concerted effort by the association, its members, its associate members, and other inventory professionals each April will help raise awareness of the many life events that require or benefit from having an inventory prepared.

The link on the top of the NICA website will take you to the NHIM page for detailed information.

Resources have been developed specifically for our NICA Members. To access this information, sign into the NICA website using your member credentials. Then just click on the link that says “National Home Inventory Month Resources” on your My Page. You will be able to download a list of posts to share on your various social media accounts. You can also download photos and an icon to use on your website, with your social media posts, in your newsletter, on marketing materials, etc. A press release template is also included that you can download and quickly add your personal information to submit to your local media. These tools will be very helpful so you can easily promote and participate in National Home Inventory Month.

All certified members who participate will receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs) towards the annual recertification. The number awarded depends on the extent of activities you choose. When applying for renewal of your CIS at the end of the year, you will be able to include the details of your NHIM participation.

30 Sep 2015

Common Questions About Membership

Members DirectoryAs with any organization, members often have specific questions about their membership. There are many benefits to being a member of the National Inventory Certification Association, and members have commented their findings. Being part of an organization of like interests seems to be a very common need that has been met by NICA.

One member stated that she feels she is finally a member of a group of professionals that have the same career goals. Another said she has found support and friendships by meeting other home inventory professionals who are also members. Another emailed us, saying that being a member has given him more confidence because it shows there are other successful home and business inventory business owners offering this service.

In addition to this type of support, we have been asked what membership offers. Key benefits are:

  • 50% discount off courses
  • 50% discount off certification exam
  • Being listed in the online directory
  • Receiving referrals from inquiry calls that are received by the NICA office.

Since the recent streamlining of processes earlier this year, we have two other questions that have recently come up:

  • How often and when do I need to renew membership? Membership is an annual renewal, due each year during the month you joined. A reminder notice is sent the month prior to your renewal month.
  • Do I need to remain a member of NICA to retain the CIS designation? No; membership is not required, but you do need to meet annual CEU requirements.

If you have other questions regarding membership, feel free to email or call the NICA office.

06 May 2015

Why Not Just Keep Up?

BeAheadA common comment from business owners goes something like this: “I know my business – been doing it for years –  but I don’t have much success anymore.”

An immediate thought might be that the economy is bad, or he isn’t trying hard enough, or people just don’t need her service or product; it’s run it’s course. However, when you take the time to really listen – really listen –  you’ll understand what the issue is. These business owners know their business, but lose touch with the business environment or their own industry.

The business environment

Major advancements in technology are mind-boggling. It seems that new software is being introduced daily. Computers become more powerful. CRM systems are doing so much more than they used to to keep track of your clients. Fax machines are out; scanning and emailing are in. Oh – wait – now you don’t need to scan and email, just put the document in Google Drive or Dropbox. Knowing how to utilize your time and accommodate your customers and vendors can be a job in itself!

Customer expectations have changed. Have you asked your customers lately what they think of your service? Knowing what they are thinking is a key in knowing how to improve your service.

Social media plays a large part in marketing plans. Which ones should you join? Is it acceptable to promote your business on that platform? How can you do it properly? You can learn about Social Media for Business here.

Unfortunately, many business owners haven’t kept up with the changes, advancements, and new opportunities – with the new ways of doing business. Years ago, staying in the office, “minding the store” as they used to say, was expected and also was enough. Times have changed. The ways to do business have changed. Business owners who keep up with these advancements are the ones who will stay ahead of those who continue to do things as they always have.

The industry

Conferring with others in your industry is essential. Think “co-opertition” instead of “competition” and work together to grow the industry. Learn about a new trend that might crop up in one area of the country – it will most likely enter your region soon. Is there a new opportunity for your service or product that wasn’t even considered a year ago? By being involved in your industry, instead of just your own business, will enable you to become and remain successful.

Join the asset inventory industry organizations. The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) offers online, self-directed continuing education courses and a certification (the only one recognized in the industry). The Inventory Institute provides many services, including coaching, seminars, webinars, industry update conference calls, referrals, project management services, and so much more.

Be aware. Be involved. Be a leader. Just keeping up with what you’ve always done will not keep you ahead.

22 Oct 2014

Certified Inventory Specialist Certification Program Improvements

certified RedDeveloped by the National Inventory Certification Association and operated in conjunction with the Inventory Institute, these two professional organizations have established a checks and balances to ensure an ethically developed and managed certification program. This is accomplished by the Inventory Institute assigning the prerequisites to achieve certification. NICA creates the education courses to meet those needs. Having one organization determine designation requirements, while another creates the education components with the CEU values assigned, helps ensure integrity in the program.

The purpose of these requirements for certification indicate that the certified professional has shown a proficiency of the knowledge and skills deemed important to the benefit of both the industry and the professional.

Certified Inventory Specialist

In line with association industry standards, a member of NICA can achieve certification as a Certified Inventory Specialist by earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through experience, education, military experience, Continuing Education Courses, and more. When the determined number of CEUs are earned, the candidate can apply for certification to achieve this level of professionalism.

Non-members can also apply for and achieve their CIS designation.

Renewing certification designation

Remaining within the guidelines of association industry standards, Certified Members will have CEU requirements to maintain/renew certification every two (2) years. Full details regarding the number of CEUs (and the various options) for Certification and Renewal are included on both the Inventory Institute and NICA websites.

This improved program was launched on October 1, 2014, and we are pleased with the favorable response we have received from our members. Having a more comprehensive certification program provides our members with a designation of which they can be proud.

15 Oct 2014

Introducing Continuing Professional Education

The Nationceual Inventory Certification Association and the Inventory Institute have co-created the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) program, and are diligently working on additional courses. Designed to help you achieve your NICA certification, and to enhance your knowledge through continued professional development, Continuing Professional Education (CPE) provides options to achieve a depth and/or breadth of the asset inventory industry.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Continuing Education Units are values placed on specific types of knowledge gained through various methods – industry experience, courses, formal education, etc. The CEUs assigned to each will be tabulated toward your efforts to achieve certification.

The NICA courses offered will have assigned CEU values. Four industry-specific courses are currently available:

  • Inventory 101
  • Code of Ethics
  • Residential Inventory
  • Business Inventory

Time Management, a non-industry course recently was recently released. Additional courses are currently being written and will be added to the curriculum soon.

A survey distributed to inventory industry professionals was beneficial, because their responses have helped determine the subjects as well as the order in which these education modules will be developed. All courses are presented in an online self-paced format so you can fit these key instructional courses into your busy lifestyle.

Course integrity

Courses provided in the Continuing Professional Education program are written by industry professionals who have experience and proven knowledge in their topic area. To ensure integrity of your Certified Inventory Specialist™ designation, all continuing education course exams are created and/or edited by instructional design or education professionals.

All NICA members receive the benefit of a 50% discount off all Continuing Education Courses and the Certification Exam offered through our website.


02 Oct 2014

A Big Step Forward

step forwardWhen an organization is created, decisions are made regarding the business model under which it will function. New leadership creates the opportunity to review current processes and make educated decisions about each of these processes. It is not an easy or quick decision to change how things have been, and replace them with new; it is a serious and arduous project. There must be a good reason for the changes and a smooth transition to make them true improvements. It is also important to take current members’ needs into consideration. All of this has happened, slowly and methodically, over the past year.

Implementing a Board of Directors, as announced in a previous post, was a major step in reorganizing the format under which the National Inventory Certification Association functions.  We know this is the right choice. Decisions and changes will not be made by just the Directors of NICA, but will be required to be approved by this Board of Directors.

Meeting higher standards

In our continued effort to conform to the standards of the association industry, thus providing NICA members and non-members with a nationally respected and recognized certification, we are implementing improvements towards this goal. (See the press release here.) After a great number of hours researching and discussing association industry standards with leaders in their respective associations, we found that our current membership and certification as an immediate, combined process, does not meet these higher standards.

New process unanimously approved

Therefore, we have presented the proposed revisions to the management of membership and certification to our Board of Directors who have unanimously approved the efforts we have given to this improvement initiative. Prior to being able to apply to take the certification exam, the inventory professional will be required to achieve 10 CEUs earned through life experiences, professional education, and courses offered through NICA. Two required courses are Code of Ethics (1 CEU) and Inventory 101 (2 CEUs). Additionally, an elective course offered through NICA is also required. This is to ensure that a solid foundation of industry knowledge is achieved prior to seeking certification. These new implementations were effective October 1, 2014.



06 Aug 2014

Revised Code of Ethics

CodeA major joint undertaking for the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) and The Inventory Institute is completed. The Directors of NICA and the CEO of The Inventory Institute devoted many hours reviewing their previous Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, respectively.

For the benefit of the inventory industry, these two documents were merged and edited into one industry-wide Code of Ethics that both organizations now share. Prior to adopting the new version as the official document, the NICA Board of Directors reviewed and approved the changes.

Though the two organizations’ Codes were similar, we believe that since we are working so closely together, with the effort to achieve cohesiveness and unity, that it made sense to establish one Code of Ethics for the industry overall.

The revised industry Code of Ethics


  • Promote professionalism through my products, services, and interaction with others.
  • Fulfill all obligations in a respectful and business-like manner.
  • Conduct myself in a manner that will not denigrate this industry or other inventory professionals.
  • Support fellow members and other asset industry professionals for the common good of the industry.
  • Promote the competency and professionalism of myself and my staff through continuing education.


  • Conduct myself with honesty and integrity in all business and personal relationships.
  • Answer all questions truthfully and honestly prior to, during, and after services rendered.
  • Offer services only for which I am qualified, and make every effort to refer a service professional for those I cannot perform.
  • Promote and advertise my services honestly.
  • Respect the intellectual property of others and will not use this proprietary information without permission.


  • Honor the trust expected of an inventory professional.
  • Take precautions to maintain all customer information in a secure manner.
  • Do not disclose information about my customers (i.e., data, photos, reports, etc.), in verbal or written form.
  • Do not sell, share, trade, or otherwise provide customer databases to other companies or individuals.
  • Publish client testimonials only with their written consent.

Customer Service

  • Serve customers with respect and courtesy.
  • Arrive at the scheduled time, prepared to complete the task promptly and efficiently.
  • Complete all projects within the agreed-upon timeframe and deliver the finished product on time and in the format expected.
  • Place customers’ needs first.
  • Strive to exceed customer expectations.

Approved by both organizations in July, the revised Code of Ethics were implemented immediately by NICA and will be effective 10/1/14 for The Inventory Institute.

The Code of Ethics is the backbone of how an industry and it’s professionals choose to conduct business; they will play a guiding role for the individual business owners and also for our two organizations as we move forward. They will be an integral part of achieving certification and designation renewals.

12 Mar 2014

Inventory Survey Results Are In

SurveyThe Inventory Institute and the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) joined together to conduct the first Inventory Industry Survey. It was distributed in late February 2014, and netted a better-than-normal response rate. This shows that Asset Industry Professionals welcome the opportunity to provide feedback for their growing industry. In response to the two organizations’ goals of being member-focused, there are plans to reach out to industry professionals again to gather more pertinent information.

As Industry Organizations, The Inventory Institute and NICA will continue to work on developing information, creating metrics, and achieving industry related initiatives that will enable them to support their members and the industry as a whole.

As a gesture of thanks for the time spent answering the survey, a drawing was held after the survey. Congratulations to Patty Kreifels of Picture This Asset Inventory Service, as the winner of the book, A Business Guide to Asset Inventory.

If you did not receive the first survey, and would like to provide your thoughts and ideas in the future, please email Johanna Curtiss of the Inventory Institute at jkcurtiss@inventoryinstitute.org to be placed on the mailing list. The results of the Inventory Industry Survey, along with the comments associated with the questions, are provided for your review.

Both organizations welcome members as well as non-members to share ideas that will benefit either The Inventory Institute, the National Inventory Certification Association, or the industry in general.